Social media, youth, and election violence in Francophone Africa – UROP Spring Symposium 2021

Social media, youth, and election violence in Francophone Africa

Alena Honig


Research Mentor(s): Justine Davis, LSA Collegiate Fellow
Research Mentor School/College/Department: Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
Presentation Date: Thursday, April 22, 2021
Session: Session 6 (4pm-4:50pm)
Breakout Room: Room 5
Presenter: 3

Event Link


Election violence remains a regular occurrence in many countries around the world. This project aims to identify and better understand the online atmosphere of politically affiliated groups on social media during violent elections in sub-Saharan Africa. We consider specifically the case of Côte d’Ivoire, where multiparty elections have been routinely tainted by violence since the 1990s. In the most recent presidential elections, at least 87 people were killed in election-related violence. Data for this project are collected from CrowdTangle, a Facebook API, that tracks social media posts in public Facebook groups. The dataset (N=2,073,664) includes all posts in 169 public Facebook groups supporting the five main political candidates in Côte d’Ivoire from 1/1/2015 to 12/1/2020. This time period covers two presidential elections (2015 and 2020), one legislative election (2016), and a constitutional referendum (2016). UROP students were tasked with coding photo and video content from the 6,248 posts that received at least 500 likes and the 2,963 posts that had at least 100 shares. The students also collected the names of the posters in order to infer ethnicity. We anticipate finding variation in support for democracy or violence conditional on political party affiliation. Trends in content may help uncover key tensions behind election-related violence in Côte d’Ivoire. Understanding the political dynamic of Ivoirians on social media will better help us understand the proliferation of violent rhetoric around elections, who is likely to use it, and perhaps inform policy interventions on reducing election-related violence.

Authors: Alena Honig
Research Method: Qualitative Study

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